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I NEVER WISHED I WERE TALLER

Source: nigeriafilms.com
AKI
AKI

How do you cope with stardom? Does the stress that come with it make you feel like quitting this profession at times?

I won't really say I am tired. The kind of ovation we get from people is, sometimes, borne out of their excitement.

I compare it to the hustle and bustle of the life in Lagos. It has become part of us; we can't run away from it. We had to put ourselves in it.

It depends on your audience and the kind of people you meet. If we meet those that are non-violent, we are able to talk to them and take pictures with them. But there are some that are just too hot to handle, they are just over-excited. When they see us, though not not with the intention to harm us, they tend to get violent. You know the Nigerian mentality, they would want to collect one or two things from us; sometimes they ask for money and we give them. At times, I ask them why they ask for money. They watch my movies and they are happy, why do they still ask for money? But, in order to be free before they harm me, I would just give them money.

Audiences are categorised in different ways, my audience in the US can only see me and scream and ask for autograph, ask for my picture or any of my items.

Some would meet me in the mall and they would end up buying things for me and all that. But here, they would ask for money.

But we can't move away from it, we have got used to it.

Are you saying you can actually walk on the streets freely like any other person?

I can't o! It is that bad. If I am driving, I always roll up my windows, especially if there is traffic; otherwise they would mob me. I can only walk in the estate where I live. If I leave there, I am on my own; anything that happens to me, I caused it.
But in all, I give God all the thanks. It is not a bad thing. To me, it is one of the greatest things anybody can think of achieving. I think we are even more popular than the President.

How did you feel when you travelled abroad and saw a large crowd waiting for you at the airport?

The first time I travelled abroad was when I went to Germany. I had a very profound reception. Some people were waiting for us at the airport for two days before we arrived. When we finally arrived, I wept. God! It was awesome. I couldn't believe the crowd I saw there. Some said they could only have that kind of crowd if Michael Jackson had come.

I couldn't believe we were that popular. I didn't know that our profession was a serious one.
The transition is just unbelievable. It didn't just come instantly. I remember that before we did Aki na Ukwa; I had done a couple of movies. But I wasn't this popular. The popularity started building up. After Aki na Ukwa, the fame exploded, it became some other thing.

Do you feel humbled or has it changed your way of life?

I have always been a humble person. I come from a nice family. I will not, because of my fame, change what I am. I am not arrogant. Anybody who knows me will know that humility is one of my virtues.

What we do in the movies is a different thing. This is the real me. By God's grace, fame can never change me. I still maintain my level of understanding and my relationship with my peer groups.

I have always been a popular person. When I was a student, I was the secretary-general of the Nigeria Junior Chamber in my school. As a student, I could stand and speak to over 1000 persons and they would listen to me. I have always been a public person. I held a lot of positions when I was a student.

How many movies have you featured in?

I have featured in so many. I tell you, I have appeared in well over 70 movies.

Can you remember the most challenging of them all?

When you try to play another person, it could be very challenging. All these times we try to act like seven-year-old kids it has not been easy. We try to change the way we talk, our mannerism and all that. It is not an easy thing, I tell you. But we have to do all that so that people will appreciate the movies.

All I can say is that when I am not playing myself, it is challenging. I have played the role of a native doctor. But look at me; I have never been to a native doctor's house before. However, I had to act that role.

I have always believed that acting is a way of life. When I am acting, I try to be natural, I try to be that person that I am acting.
No matter what, I have chosen this profession; I cannot go back. This is the best profession anyone can be engaged in. It enables you to be an armed robber today and a priest tomorrow.I love this job; it has become a part of my life.

You always seem to play stereotyped roles…

If I have done 10 movies this year, I only played the part of a small boy in one.
Most of the movies we do now are adult movies. We play nothing less than the role of 19 year olds. We try to use that opportunity to tell kids that we are adults; we are not their mates even with our size. We are not kids; we are just trying to interpret roles.

Going down memory lane, especially when you were growing up, did your size ever make you feel intimidated?

I have always been a captain. Ironically, I didn't grow up with my mates. I grew up with people that were older than me. In whatever I did with my mates, I made sure I was the captain; I gave the orders. It made me to be respected.
As a child, I fought and quarrelled like every normal kid, but I was very strong and I am still very strong. I never allow anybody to intimidate me, never.

Do you have any regret?

I don't have any. It is just that when I remember some loved ones who are no more, I get sad. My grandmother was one of the persons who made me what I am today, but she is no more and it makes me sad when I remember that.
Apart from that, I have no other regret. God has created me the way He wanted me to be. I am now using the talent He bestowed on me to make a living.

When you were younger, did you use to ask God to make you taller?

Maybe I did that when I was much younger. Now, there is no need for that. It is not something I can change otherwise my parents would have done something about it years ago.
God wanted it this way, so they had no other choice but to give me the best they could.

There was a time we heard that you were engaged, you even went as far as throwing a grand engagement bash…

All I had was a birthday party; it was never an engagement party. Other people can call it whatever they want, that is their business.

But what of the lady you were involved with?

We had a birthday party together. Our birthdays fell on the same month so we decided to mark it together.

So you guys are more than friends…

I don't want to talk about it, please. It is my private life and when I want to talk about it to the world, I will. For now, just forget it.

If you weren't an actor, what do you think you would have been?

I would have been a very big international TV producer. I read Mass Communication and I majored in broadcasting. Even when I was at the higher institution, I was devising means of working in CNN. I had some things I said I would do as an independent producer. I will still do them, no matter what. The dream is not dead yet. As long as I am alive, I will do it.

Are you looking forward to settling down one day?

Of course, I will get married one day.

What kind of girl do you hope to marry?

Every man would want to marry a girl that has the fear of God in her. I want to marry somebody who is God-fearing. She doesn't have to be fair or dark or short or tall. A nice girl is a nice girl, no matter the physical qualities. When I am ready to settle down, I will tell you.

What are your dreams?

I want my impact to be felt all over the world. I don't want to be popular only in Nigeria; I want a situation where my impact will be felt among the international bodies. I want children to feel the impact of Chinedu Ikedieze. I want my name to be embodied on the bedrock of this country Nigeria.